Traditional Rulers in Igboland under the auspices of Igbo Traditional Rulers Forum (ITRF), have okayed the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to pursue to a logical conclusion, its appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which acquitted former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, of allegations of obtaining his senatorial election victory through coercion.
The Returning Officer for Imo West senatorial election, Prof Innocent Ibeawuchi had alleged that Okorocha’s thugs forced him at gun point, to declare him winner.Based on that, INEC therefore, withheld Okorocha’s Certificate of Return but Justice Abang Okon of the lower court over ruled INEC and ordered that Okorocha be issued with CoR as winner of the election.
Speaking through their Chairman and the Obi of Obinugwu, HRM, Eze (Dr) Cletus Ilomuanya, the monarchs commended INEC’s decision to go ahead with Okorocha’s prosecution, “as it will restore its integrity as an unbiased umpire, help in safeguarding the nation’s electoral process and serve as deterrent to others who may wish to emulate Okorocha’s alleged unlawful and reprehensible conduct during the elections.”
Eze Ilomuanya stated that the former governor’s alleged misdemeanor was a dent on the federal government’s genuine and concerted efforts at enthroning a transparent, credible, free and fair electoral process. He said that Okorocha’s alleged insensitive action was capable of undermining the integrity of elections in Nigeria before the international community, pointing out that such misbehavior credited to a former governor is very unfortunate and embarrassing.
The monarch made it clear that the 2019 general elections were commendable because of its relative peaceful and transparent nature, noting that INEC lived up to expectations despite the herculean challenges it faced. He stressed that every well meaning Nigerian should support INEC’s effort at curbing the desperation to win at all costs by politicians, which he said brews electoral violence and unlawful conducts such as Okorocha’s case now receiving judicial scrutiny.
“As royal fathers, we have a duty to speak out when evil beckons. Evil only thrives where noble men keep silent. Who knows who will be the next victim? He may not even be alive to speak out as Prof Ibeawuchi did. If what Okorocha was alleged to have done to secure electoral victory fraudulently is not checked now, during next elections, there might be war everywhere due to the desperation to win, with Okorocha’s case as a reference point. To me, a stitch in time, saves nine, “Eze Ilomuanya cautioned